Aug 17th 2007 7:44AM The management advisory below was issued last night from Corporate Communications to Johnson & Johnson leadership. As it involves our first aid brands, we wanted all Consumer Group associates to fully understand the situation.
Johnson & Johnson has a longstanding commitment to upholding the integrity of our trademarks. Yesterday the Company took an unfortunate but necessary step in the United States to protect one of our oldest trademarks - - the Red Cross design.
As many of you know, Johnson & Johnson began using the Red Cross design and "Red Cross" word trademarks in the United States in 1887, predating the chartering of the American Red Cross. The Company has had exclusive rights to use the Red Cross trademark on commercial products within our longstanding product categories for over 100 years. Since its creation, the American Red Cross has had the rights to use the Red Cross trademark only in connection with its non-profit relief services.
We were very disappointed to find that the American Red Cross started a campaign to license the trademark to several businesses for commercial purposes on all types of products being sold in many different retail and other commercial outlets. These products include baby mitts, nail clippers, combs, toothbrushes, hand sanitizers and humidifiers. This action is in direct violation of a Federal statute protecting the mark as well as in violation of our longstanding trademark rights.
For the past several months, Johnson & Johnson attempted to resolve this issue through cooperation and discussion with the American Red Cross, and recently offered mediation, all to no avail. The Company was left with no choice but to seek protection of our trademark rights through the courts.
The American Red Cross issued a strongly worded press release Wednesday evening objecting to our action. We worked energetically Wednesday night to provide the media with fair balance on this story, including public issuance of our own statement concerning the suit and select interviews to better inform reporters.
The goal of this civil complaint is simply to restore the long-held legal boundaries surrounding the use of the Red Cross trademark. We have great respect for the relief work of the American Red Cross and over the decades have consistently supported the organization through cash donations, product donations and employee volunteering. And we remain committed to supporting its primary mission through our philanthropic efforts. We regret that we had to take this step, but are confident that the courts will protect our legitimate rights to our trademark.